News / Europe

Greeks, Riot Police Clash During Protest Over Spending Cuts

Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011
Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011

In Greece, two major unions went on strike and tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday.  It is a public protest against government plans to toughen the country’s austerity measures and save the country from financial ruin. 

More than 20,000 people took to the streets of Athens, and in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, another estimated 20,000.

They were protesting against government plans to raise taxes and cut spending.

The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but in the capital, at the Syntagma Square outside parliament, riot police fired tear gas at a group of protestors who were armed with petrol bombs.

Inside parliament, lawmakers debated the controversial new austerity package worth around $40 billion that is causing major public discontent.

One young Greek told reporters that something has to be done to reverse the government plans.

She says at 25 years old, she does not know what will happen to her future.  She says she is very angry about the situation.

But the Greek government is struggling to come up with a way to balance the country’s spiraling debt problems.

Loans to Greece from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are conditional upon this new austerity package.  And Greece is dependent on its creditors.  If the EU and the IMF do not deliver on a rescue package, Greece will have to default on its debts -- a situation that would have repercussions across the European Union.

But European governments have their own problems to worry about, not least tax-paying voters who are not happy about bailing out the Greek economy.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London, says EU nations have to pull together to keep the Greek economy afloat.

"If the European Central Bank cannot help the ailing situation of certain members, then what is the point of having the euro?" asked Wheeldon.  "This situation and that of other countries who have run into trouble, or may yet run into trouble, has to be dealt with in a concerted manner by the government of the rest."

Part of Wednesday’s action was organized by two Greek unions who went on a 24-hour strike and organized public marches.  Similar events have turned violent in the past; just last month, three clerks died after their bank was hit with firebombs.

And it is not just public protest that the leading Socialist Party has to worry about.  On Tuesday, a government deputy defected, narrowing the government’s majority in parliament.

Wheeldon says it is a volatile situation, but Greece and the European Union will get through it.

"We will get through [this] crisis.  If Greece is to default, or does default, which it probably will at some point, it's not going to bring the euro down and it's certainly not going to bring the EU down," Wheeldon said.

The Greek austerity package is to be voted on later this month.

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid